A Memorable Day
Memory of AVI, 1941-2012.
Copyright 2022 by Ezra Azra
Photo by Jarod Barton on Pexels.
single-engine piston aircraft Cessna 172 Skyhawk, best-selling model
of all time, crashed in accelerating speed into the international
river border, opposite the beginning of Ouellette Avenue, downtown
was about eleven o’clock in the morning, annual National
Independence Day. The calamitous event was significantly more
spectacular for being witnessed by hundreds of spectators on both
banks of the river, gathered to enjoy the annual Red Bull aircraft
roar of the crowds shattered some windows of the many high-rise
residential and commercial buildings along Windsor’s Riverside
Drive, East and West, paralleling the river.
vessels of both countries were on the scene within minutes, supposing
the accident was a Red Bull catastrophe. That the coastguard vessels
could be on the scene so soon was because of the total ban on
civilian and commercial boats and air traffic in that section of the
river during the annual Red Bull airshow.
minutes, phone calls from the Red Bull organizers dismissed the
suppositions, and by way of confirmation, flew by six Red Bull
aircraft in formation, executing daredevil acrobatics repeatedly,
much to the international spectators’ deafening admiration.
entertaining were the Red Bull maneuvers that the fatal disaster to
the Cessna occupants mere minutes previously, was quite forgotten by
most spectators, if not all, within seconds.
agents on both coastguard vessels were baffled by the complete and
instantaneous submarine disappearance of the Skyhawk. Heavy
contraband content was their first suspicion.
coastguard vessels were patrol class. They were not equipped to
engage in salvage operations. Higher class vessels were on the way,
estimated to arrive in three hours.
river being an international border, it would not be straightforward
determining national jurisdictions. The river, respecting neither
nation’s authority, was, probably, making the situation more
complicated by randomly tumbling things about deep underwater. Police
helicopters of both countries buzzed about the river, engaged in
searching for the Cessna and its survivors, and in discouraging News
helicopters from impeding the search.
miracle or a mere optical illusion, depending on the angle of sight
from the ground, was the presence of the flock of geese. Did the
Cessna pass harmlessly among them on its way to extinction, or did
its course safely miss them? Whichever, those birds kept flying
without missing a honk. There was no indication that any person had
noticed the near-collision of geese and aircraft.
lawyers of the Firm on the tenth floor of Campus Towers, on Riverside
Drive East, were also baffled by the Skyhawk's quick submergence.
two lawyers had seen the Cessna plunge and disappear. They were
having varying degrees of success and failure convincing their four
gawking skeptical professional colleagues. The only hard evidence the
two had were the cracks in the extra-wide office windows overlooking
dared claim the window damage as primary evidence, because they knew
the bellowings of the spectator hordes were likely culprits, and not
the luckless 172.
two professionals had on their side the almighty unspoken fact that a
catastrophe of this high celebrity always meant the probability of
lucrative clients. This awareness significantly dampened the fervor
and skepticism in the opposing four. It would definitely have helped
the two had the owner of the Firm witnessed the crash; Mister Arnold
Sherwell, owner of the Law Firm, had not.
a few minutes before and after the incident, Mister Sherwell was in
the Firm’s inner office, giving the rest of the day off to some
personnel. He did this every year on this public national holiday
because he knew that by mid-afternoon, the crowds descending on the
City to celebrate the Red Bull performances, made congested vehicular
traffic on the City’s major roads, a wide-awake nightmare.
McBride was one of the lucky interns given the rest of the day off by
Arnold Sherwell. She took the elevator to the garage in the basement
of the Towers where her four-door sedan was parked. She inserted the
key into the car door.
hand from behind shoved her violently against the vehicle. A male
voice hissed, “Do not make a sound. I have a knife.” She
was terrified. The malevolent voice continued hissing, “Open
the door. Give me the keys. Get in on your knees on the seat. Unlock
the passenger door. Stay kneeling."
a hoarse trembling voice she forced herself to reply. “All
right.” She shakily handed him the keys. She struggled to
kneel on the seat. By the time she managed to reach over to unlock
the passenger door, her assailant was already there on the outside.
He yanked the door open and thrust himself inside. He growled at her
as he shoved the keys at her with one hand, and waved a long stained
hunting knife at her in his other hand. “Sit! Lock your door.
fumbled inserting the key in the ignition. She mechanically fastened
her seat-belt, and mechanically said to him, “Seat belt.”
He, too, mechanically, complied, grimly. He was awkward with the
belt, using one hand. He put the knife on the dashboard to free his
hand came at him from behind, inside the car. The barrel of a handgun
was jammed into his neck. A hard voice whispered, “One sound,
and you're dead.” Yvonne sucked her lips over her teeth and
clamped down hard to stifle herself from screaming. A woman’s
voice addressed the man. “Are we good?” He coughed;
cleared his throat. “Yes! Yes! Good.”
your hands at your sides. You, at the wheel.” Barely audible in
terror, “Yes.” “Give me the keys.” Yvonne
held the keys up to be taken. The female with the gun, to the man,
“Reach over. Take the knife by the tip of the blade, and hand
it to me, handle-first.” He slowly obeyed. When she had the
knife in her hand, “Unbuckle and exit. Slowly.” He
slowly and menacingly complied. When he was halfway out, she swiftly
exited and grabbed him.
lawyer made a mighty determined effort to look away. She heard a
suppressed grunt from the man. The woman re-entered the sedan. She
sat behind Yvonne. “What's your name?” “Yvonne.”
She handed Yvonne the keys. “Drive, Yvonne.”
that moment a woman, of Yvonne’s stature and, likely, her age,
hurried by, across in front of the car. She waved briefly at Yvonne.
Hesitantly, Yvonne waved back. The person continued quickly walking.
A harsh whisper from behind inside the sedan, “Who is that?”
Hastily, insecurely, “One of Mister Sherwell’s lawyer
interns. Like me.” “Drive, and hope she does not return
to chat.” “She won't. We are rivals in the office. She
hates me.” “And you? You hate her?” “I am
trying to not. It is so hard. She is not a nice person.”
drove slowly and extra carefully. Her hands on the wheel were in pain
from being excessively stiff from tight gripping in fear. She turned
left out of the Towers basement garage, and headed West on Riverside
Drive. The vehicular traffic was so congested they would not have
been able to get onto the Drive if the Towers did not have its own
traffic lights for its basement parking garage.
all this traffic?” “It's normal for today in downtown.
Once a year Red Bull puts on an air show to celebrate today. National
Independence Day. Our Nation's birthday.”
coastguard on the river, too? And all the helicopters?” “I
suppose. I have never been this far on this day.”
is your City?” “For now. My home is in Tennville. Four
hundred miles north.
did you do to the man in the Towers parking garage?” “I
returned his knife, and sent him off on the path he chose.”
Softly, “Thank you for rescuing me from him.” “You
the traffic lights, Yvonne turned left onto Ouellette Avenue. A stern
“Why?” from the backseat passenger. Yvonne replied
quickly, “In this traffic, I must get onto Wyandotte Street
West. The apartment building I live in is on Wyandotte Street West.
In this traffic I will not be able to access Wyandotte Street West
from Riverside Drive West.”
the traffic lights at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Wyandotte
Street, Yvonne turned right onto Wyandotte West. The vehicular
traffic on Wyandotte was as daunting as on Riverside Drive.
it's not your City, you won't know where the tunnel across the border
to Main Town is, then?” “Everybody knows where the tunnel
is. Right now, we are moving away from it.”
Wellington and Cameron Avenues, south of Wyandotte Street West?”
that tunnel. I've heard of it but I've never seen its entrance. I
think that one is a railway tunnel. I was talking about the other
tunnel for automobiles. That entrance is downtown.”
I am talking about the other one. A railway tunnel. The Interstate
Central Railway Tunnel. Between Wellington and Cameron Avenues, south
of Wyandotte Street West.” “As far as I know, there's
nothing there for passengers.” “It's somewhere ahead of
us?” “Yes.” “Before or after where you live?”
“A few blocks before. And on this road.” “Good.
Drop me off anywhere between Wellington and Cameron.” “That
won't be a problem in this traffic crawl.”
helicopters crisscrossing far ahead concerned Yvonne. Could they be
searching for her armed passenger?
was a lot of constant car-hooting and people-shouting the vehicles
crept along by alternative lengthy stoppages and inchings forward.
“Careful. Pedestrian to your left.” Yvonne instinctively
pedestrian, festoonly dressed, and waving a small National flag on a
stick, was crossing the road, recklessly squeezing herself between
the crawling along helplessly tailgating vehicles.
backseat passenger extra-squished herself into her seat behind the
driver in order to be less visible to pedestrians celebrating
mindlessly. Such carelessly cheerful and loud persons were
everywhere, between the cars and on the sidewalks, enjoying the
such individual appeared suddenly alongside the car at Yvonne’s
side. He was dressed as a clown. He showed Yvonne a basket containing
hand-sized boxes of candy. “Caledon fudge chocolate, friend?
Two boxes for a dollar! Five squares in a box. Made right here in
Windsor. Exported all over the world.”
love Caledons. I grew up on them when I lived overseas. Two boxes,
please. This is an incredible price. A dollar-fifty each, in the
shops." "I know. This is your lucky National Independence
completed the transaction. "How about your friend in the
backseat?" "Not feeling well. That is why I am buying two
boxes. A happy National Independence Day to you, friend." "Thanks. You,
with a Caledon single, factory-wrapped in cellophane. “New
flavour and texture, being introduced today. One free to all who buy
more than one box of the regular. I recommend it be eaten before the
regulars in order to allow it the opportunity to establish its
distinct identity. On the inside of the wrapper is a discount coupon
and an email address to contact, with your comment. Don't delay.
There's an expiry date, if only because it is chocolate that will
melt.” “Thank you. I will remember.
the way, do you
know whatever is going on with those police helicopters out there?”
“I happen to know a lot. My buddies and I were there when the
cops arrived.” “There where?” “By that
railway tunnel. We put on free entertainment for the homeless campers
there, from time to time. We are used to being harassed by police.”
“So, this is just usual general police harassment?” “A
little more than usual, I would say. But, then, that might be just
because today is special. International Independence Day. You have a
flourish and bow, the clown squeezed himself along to another car.
a box of the chocolates to the back. Her passenger deftly caught it.
“Thanks. I’m starving. A clown, huh? Always the perfect
disguise for undercover police work.” “Less paranoia,
please, if you don't want to choke on and spoil those delicious
roared overhead, to somewhere ahead. Far away, one helicopter
descended out of sight; another two continued to hover around in
search pattern. “The railway tunnel?” “I guess so.” “Not a good idea to
go there, huh?” “Not a good
idea.” “Perhaps I can hang out with you at your place for
am a lawyer. Is your gun legal?” “Gun? What gun? Oh, you
mean the gun I stashed in that clown’s costume.” Yvonne
bows her head over the steering wheel, desperately attempting to cope
with despair. “Be happy, Yvonne. I remembered to remove the
bullets and wipe the prints. That clown is sure to have a laugh when
he finds out he has been out-gunned, so to speak.”
welcome to hang out in my place.” “Just until it gets
dark. Then I'm out of your life forever. I promise.” “It's
okay. I live alone.
I ask a personal
question?” “Go ahead."
tunnel is an unforgiving place. Why is it so important to you?”
in Honduras, a few of us teens were bought from our families by a
drug cartel. A normal business transaction in my Honduras. Extreme
poverty is everywhere. We travelled by bus for days. I did not know
where we were going. Eventually, we reached the tunnel entrance. One
night we were secretly herded like cattle into a railway-goods
container, and locked in. A tornado struck. When it was over, there
was a tangle of damaged railway containers on this side of the
tunnel. Bodies all over. Dead, unconscious, struggling. I was one of
the lucky ones.
was a camp of
dozens of homeless persons nearby. They took us in. Fed us. Promised
to protect us. We few Hondurans made a pact to return occasionally to
help others. With the help of those homeless ones, we eventually
spread out into the country.” “I was hoping to return
today for help to return to Honduras.”
searching at the tunnel. It is not safe for you there."
"According to the newspapers on both sides of the river, there
still is a settlement of homeless persons there. I'm counting on
meeting former friendly associates."
Randolph Avenue coming up. Our righthand turn-off.” “Your
home nearby?” “That three-storey high-rise coming up on
the right, 2136. I live on the third floor. Parking at the rear.”
onto Randolph, and, within a few feet, right again onto the service
alley at the rear of 2136 Wyandotte Street West.
the ground, on the rooves of buildings and automobiles, and in the
trees. “What’s with the ducks?” “Geese. Tenants of 2136 keep feeding
them. Be mindful where you step. Cover
building. Yvonne let out a soft sigh of frustration, "Oh, no!"
She stopped the car. "What is it?" "That obnoxious
"That red half-truck. The landlord assigns a parking space to
each apartment. See the numbers on the wall?” “Yes.”
“Number 32 is mine. That red truck criminal did some renovation
work for the landlord sometime back. Ever since then, he parks in any
he is asked to
leave, he refuses, saying he is doing repair work in the building.
Right now he is in my space.” "Number 38 is empty. Go,
park there. Then, go open the backdoor, and stand there where he can
see you." She moved to exit the car. “What are you going
of your space.” She exited the car and waited until Yvonne had
parked her car in space 38, and was standing in the opened
back-doorway of the building. Then, she walked up to the driver in
the red half-truck. He was seated at the wheel, busy writing in a
notebook. "Hello, sir." He looked up sternly at her.
smiled and spoke
gently. "Sir, you see that lovely young thing standing in the
doorway?" He scowled and looked. Yvonne waved slightly at him.
“I don't know her.” “That's not the problem, sweet
sir. You're parked in her space. See?” She pointed to the
number 32 painted in large numbers on the brick wall in front of his
artificially, and sweetly, and speaking especially softly while
fixing on his eyes her coldest hardest most threatening glare. "Sir,
I work for an Agency downtown. That lovely lady in the doorway has
hired me through the Agency for two hours. If you don't move your
vehicle, I will be obliged, by Agency protocol rules, mark you, sir,
by Agency protocol rules to make one phone call. You are tying my
hands, sweet, sir.”
have burly bouncers here within minutes, kind sir. There is no
telling what they will do to you. Sweet, sir. Please. One business
person to another, huh?” She slowly waved her partially hidden
cellphone at him.
locked looks with
her, and leaned nearer. “Are you a whore?” Relaxing
enough visibly for him to notice, “That’s a fair way of
describing it, sir. High class. High priced. We do all genders, all
pronouns, sir. Individuals and groupies.” He fixed a stern look
into her eyes. For seconds it seemed to be a grim stand-off. He broke
into a reluctantly naughty half-smile. “You have a business
would never ask.” Deftly and out of nowhere she produced a card
in her hand and seductively handed it to him between the tips of her
two fingers, opening her mouth slightly for him to see her tongue
slowly sliding over her non-lipsticked wet lips.
He reversed out of the space, and drove off, his mischievous smile
morphing into an uncouthly toothy grin displaying neglected teeth.
space number 38. She parked her car in space 32. They suppressed
giggles as they walked up the stairs to 32 on the third floor.
apartment, both of them burst into uncontrolled giggling. "Remember,
I have to leave when it gets dark.” “Okay. Bathroom
there. You first. Garbage bin there by the kitchen sink.” She
points. “Tomorrow is garbage day, so feel free to discard as
much as you wish. I will go change, and fix us snacks.”
minutes later, they were sitting at the kitchen table having drinks
and snacks Yvonne made and served. They chatted casually as they
enjoyed their snacks. “By my unfortunate life, I have an
instinctive feel for neighborhoods. This is a ghetto. You are a
lawyer. Should you not be living in a safer neighborhood?”
three years ago. Within weeks I wanted to flee. My boss, Mister
Sherwell, pointed out the opportunities I should avail myself of in
the crimes in and around this building. I have successfully
represented five clients, so far. And I have four years to go in my
internship with Mister Sherwell’s Firm. At this rate, I could
end my internship with being offered a partnership in the Firm.” Her
visitor raised a cup to her.
don’t have television or cable. In your bedroom?” “Only
a cheap small radio. So far, there have been three failed attempts to
break into this apartment. When they eventually succeed, I am
determined they do not find anything of value. Not even in the
“My name is Enid.” Softly, and in obvious surprise,
“Pleased to meet you, Enid.” They raise their cups to
each other. “Enid, would you care to shower and change your
clothes. You stink. I have some new items I’ve never worn. Take
your pick.” “We are completely helpless when naked in the
to the underside of this table is a loaded licensed handgun. Mister
Sherwell insisted. You have nothing to be afraid of from me when you
are naked in my shower. Now, please, go. Stuff your old stuff in a
garbage bag. Tomorrow is garbage day.” “Thank you,
Yvonne. Invitation, with clean clothes, accepted.”
before I forget. When you leave in the dark, go by the front door;
not the door by which we entered the building." "How do I
get there? Front door?" "Turn left when you leave this
apartment. I'll be there with you at the front door, just in case."
is a ghetto. There are protocols for safety. If you have to pass a
stranger in the hallway, greet them when you are a safe distance in
front of them; don’t mind it if they do not return your
greeting; when you are safely passed them, quicken your pace.”
forget. Here, catch.” She took a small bag out of her pocket
and tossed it to Yvonne. Yvonne caught it. “What is it?”
“The bullets I denied that clown. I noticed your gun is the
same caliber. I no longer have any use for them.” In
hesitation, “Thanks. I think.”
of clean clothes still stands, I will take that shower now.”
“It stands. And something more to think about while you are
rejuvenating under the water. I could benefit from someone being here
when I am at work. If your business at the tunnel can be postponed to
a safer time, you can live here with me. Free of charge. For as long
as you care to. If you have no identification documents, I can help.
Our law Firm has an immigration section. We are working with asylum
seekers all the time.”
Yvonne. That is an incredibly good offer. I have to visit that tunnel
now. After that, I will take you up on this offer.” “Be
extra careful, Enid. If police find you are illegally here, that will
seriously limit how the Firm can help you. We might not be able to
get involved at all. And, worse, as a lawyer, I am already in trouble
for not reporting what happened in that garage today. I stand to be
disbarred.” “So, it is already too late for your career
as a lawyer?”
kidnapped me. You did have a gun on me when you ordered me to drive
out of the garage.” “I will swear to that fact, on a
stack of Bibles.” “Thank you, but what if that assailant
comes forward?” “He most definitely will not.” Enid
fixed a hard cold look into Yvonne’s wide and worried eyes.
Yvonne’s lawyer soul took a deep and silent and painful breath,
be really bad for you, Yvonne, if that passer-by colleague of yours,
remembers. You know, the one that you said hates you in the office?”
Yvonne desperately struggled to not despair. Softly, “Shower
as long as you wish. Remember, water is free here."
noon News on television and radio, “The cause of the Cessna 172
Skyhawk crash is yet unknown. There were two pilots. The one’s
dead body was recovered downriver. She died on impact. Although the
body was located downriver far away from all pieces of the wreckage,
it is certain the body is connected to the wreckage because of a
label on an item of clothing.” A magnified image of the label
was shown on the television screen. It read, ‘Cessna 172
pilot is missing, but not presumed dead because the seat belt was
unfastened. The plane was a cargo carrier. It is not known how much
cargo has been taken by the river. Only one wood crate was found in
the cargo hold, strapped down. The crate contained contraband drugs
wrapped in over 100 parcels, with a street value of at least a
hundred million dollars. There was a second crate of equal size. So
far, it has not been located. Since its straps are unfastened and are
still in part of the wreck, it is a safe guess that crate was a
plane broke into three parts.
the hours it took
for the salvage to begin, the river had carried the parts over a mile
away from the impact site.
names of the
pilots are not known. It is not ruled out that the second pilot swam
ashore into our Country, on this side of the river.
other news. There
was a murder in downtown Windsor this morning. The body of a young
homeless man was found in the underground parking garage of Campus
Towers on Riverside Drive East, almost directly in line with the
Cessna crash site on the river. He had been stabbed to death behind
his neck. He was well-known to Windsor police as a petty thief.
was alone in apartment 32, sprawled out on the sofa, napping,
unplanned, out of excessive mental and emotional exhaustion. She
awoke suddenly, near midnight. All the lights were on. She was
bemused for a second-or-two. Did she have a visitor earlier on? She
pushed herself up on the sofa. She looked around the room.
remembered! Had she been foolish! Her mouth went dry. Her throat
threatened seizure. She forced herself to swallow, over and over. She
looked at the kitchen table. Had she, really? She hurried to the
table, knelt on one knee, and looked. No! No! She had been foolish!
The gun was not there. She was near to collapsing in self-disgust
when that voice galvanized her.
That whining drunken voice from the parking lot beneath her balcony.
“Please 32, come down and open the back door for me. I have
lost my key. You have helped me before. Thank you. Please, 32. Just
one more time. I love you.”
and strode to the balcony glass door. She was angry. "Yes! I
helped you," screamed Yvonne, silently to herself! Stupid me!
She opened the sliding door, but did not step out onto the balcony.
She called out to the drunk below as compassionately as she could
to help you again. But my key broke in the lock of my apartment door.
I am waiting for the landlord. I will send him to help you when he
arrives. Okay?” Weakly, through harsh coughs and clearings of
the throat, “All right. Thank you, 32. I love you.”
Esme? Hello?” “Hello, 32.” “Try calling out
to Esme to help you. She lives in 38.” “38?” “Yes.
At the other end on this floor.” “Is that not where
someone died, 32?”
time ago. A very long time ago. Esme lives there now, happily. Call
out to her. I spoke to her earlier tonight. Okay?” “Yes.
Thank you, 32.” “You are most welcome. Happy Independence
Day to you.”
paused a few
seconds, just in case there was going to be a reply. There was no
reply. She hastily closed and locked the balcony door. She had
moments of complete memory-loss. She stared about. She remembered!
dashed to it on the kitchen counter. In her frantic eagerness, she
pressed wrong buttons a few times. The door sprang open. She looked.
There it was. Her gun!
retrieved it. Looked inside the oven, again, expectantly, and
retrieved a small plastic bag with Enid’s extra bullets.
City pick-up at six in the morning. By this time, usually, she had
already carried her regulation-required black garbage bag down to the
landlord’s bins in the parking lot. She hurriedly, and
routinely, filled a bag from the three small containers in different
areas of the apartment. This first time she would have to take the
garbage down tomorrow morning before six o’clock in order to
avoid meeting that whiner drunkard downstairs, again.
saw the two
empty Caledon boxes. She remembered the cellophane-wrapped Caledon
freebie that clown gave her, but she could not remember eating it. He
said she should eat it right away; she did not. She recalled she had
slipped it into her coat pocket. By now it would be melted into mush,
staining her coat.
garbage detail to hastily go to the closet to check her coat. She
found the Caledon where she recalled stashing it.
still felt cellophane firm, instead of mushy soft. She sat at the
kitchen table and tore the cellophane open. No chocolate inside!
Instead, only a small business-card size piece of paper with the
words, “Suspect at large. Contact police.”
She let the card fall onto the kitchen table. She cradled her face in
her hands, and broke down crying softly. She called out silently,
barely, brokenly, to herself, “Enid! Enid! Yes! You were right!
The clown was undercover!”
heard sounds of
a violent argument somewhere in the building. “And so,”
she thought, wearily wiping away tears, “the 2136 nightly show
begins. Any minute now, police sirens and loud stompings up and down
the stair ways and along the corridors. Doors slamming.”
the first time
since she took up residence here at 2136, years ago, she did not find
any of that, lawyer-exciting. Yvonne’s tired soul really could
not care less, any more. When that doomsday meteor strikes tomorrow,
please, might 2136 be ground zero? Thank you.
emptied the kitchen container, the last container, into the black
plastic bag, a bit of torn wet crumpled paper accidentally flipped
onto the kitchen floor. Yvonne reflexively hastily snatched up the
bit. Something about it caught her attention. It was not paper. She
inspected it closer.
was a small
fabric clothes-label. She straightened it out, and discerned the
words, “Cessna 172 Skyhawk.”
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Story list and biography
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher